Adventists conquer Kokoda

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The 10,000 Toes Kokoda team. (Credit: Lyna Stackelroth)

A group of around 30 Seventh-day Adventists have hiked Papua New Guinea’s iconic Kokoda Track in an effort to raise awareness of the diabetes epidemic in the South Pacific.

The team of trekkers from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea completed the nine-day journey yesterday. Along the way, the group shared messages of healing and hope with local community members, with a particular focus on the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 10,000 Toes campaign—an initiative committed to “turning the tide on diabetes in the South Pacific”.

Among the hikers were South Pacific Division president Pastor Glenn Townend, Western Australian Conference president Steve Goods, ADRA Australia CEO Paul Rubessa and Sanitarium Health Food Company (New Zealand) general manager Rob Scoines.

“It was great to meet so many faithful and loyal Seventh-day Adventists who are following in the footsteps of the early missionaries and yet don’t have much contact with the outside world,” said Pastor Townend, who made the journey alongside his son, Travis, and daughter-in-law, Chelsea. “Their Christian values were evident in their hospitality and demeanour, the singing and worship. That and the amazing rugged beauty of the landscape were the highlights for me.”

Adventist Record editor Jarrod Stackelroth echoed a similar sentiment, saying “at every campsite we were met with love and hospitality from the local people”.

“The trek was hard. [However], the singing was amazing and the worships made us forget our aching feet and brought us closer to heaven.”

The hike got off to a rough start, with heavy rain making the path incredibly slippery. At the end of the first day, three members of the team—and a couple of porters—were forced to abandon the hike due to injury.

Another participant, Junior Sulusi, had to be helicoptered into Kokoda after a number of flight delays.